Build a DIY Bookshelf with No Tools: Cheap Bookshelf Ideas - Cinder Block + Wood | homify

Build a DIY Bookshelf with No Tools: Cheap Bookshelf Ideas - Cinder Block + Wood

Ashutosh Singh Avatar Ashutosh Singh


  • 4 Cinder blocks
  • 15mm plywood
  • Water repellent sealant
  • Paintbrush


If you are looking for DIY ideas for bookshelves that don’t cost much and are easy to make, you will find the perfect idea here. I will show you how to build a simple bookshelf with cinder blocks and plywood. You don’t need any tools for it, and you can customise the concrete block bookshelf to any size by using small or large blocks. I picked these from a dumpsite to save costs. One thing to be aware about is the fine powder that comes off the cinder blocks, but you can solve this by sealing the blocks to prevent it from happening. Let me show you the steps. It’s so easy that you will agree that it is one of the best cheap bookshelf ideas, and it’s unique too.

8 hoursDifficultyEasy

Step 1: How to seal the cinder blocks

Whether you use this or any other cinder block shelves ideas, one thing to keep in mind is that the cement powder will keep falling on your floor unless you seal the surface of the block. For eliminating the hassle of continuous cleaning, you should coat it with a sealant. I decided to use a liquid water-repellent sealant that would penetrate the cement's surface and applied it to the cinder blocks using a paintbrush. You can apply a second coat as a precaution. The sealant will also give the concrete blocks a shiny and slightly darker appearance.

Step 2: Cut the plywood to size

For keeping the budget of the project low, I decided to use plywood boards that I had leftover from a previous project. You can cut shelves in the desired size from plywood boards or use recycled planks. When cutting from a large board, cut as many shelves as you plan to have on your bookshelf, ensuring that the depth of each shelf is slightly larger than the size of the cinder block. You can sand and varnish them to give them a better finish if you like.  

Step 3: Arrange the shelves

You can design the shelf based on the available space. For a long bookshelf, it is advisable to space the cinder blocks around 1.5m apart from one another to ensure that the shelf is sturdy. For a smaller shelf, like the one that I have made, you can place the cement blocks around 15cm from the edges of the wood shelf. Ensure that the blocks on each side align.

Step 4: Add the first shelf and then the cinder block for the next level

Arrange the wood board on the cinder blocks that you placed on the floor. Then, place the next set of cinder blocks on it for the second shelf. If you want to fix the blocks to the wood to make the structure sturdy, you can glue the cinder blocks to the wood. Ensure that the cinder blocks on each level align with the ones above and below them.

Step 5: DIY bookshelf

Depending on how tall you want the shelf to be, you can add several levels and finish it by adding the top shelf on the cinder blocks. Now, all that remains is to arrange your books, potted plants or decorative accessories on the shelf. Isn’t this such a cost-effective and simple idea?

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